Laser beams, capable of controlling the mechanical motion of micron-scale objects, can serve as a tool, enabling investigations of numerous interaction scenarios under full control. Beyond pure electromagnetic interactions, giving rise to conventional gradient forces and radiation pressure, environment-induced thermal effects can play a role and, in certain cases, govern the dynamics. Here we explore a thermocapillary Marangoni effect, which is responsible for creating long-range few hundreds of nano-Newton forces, acting on a bubble around a ‘gilded vaterite’ nanoparticle. Decorating calcium carbonate spherulite (the vaterite) with gold nanoseeds allows tuning its optical absorption and, as a result, controlling its temperature in a solution. We demonstrate that keeping a balance between electromagnetic and thermal interactions allows creating of a stable micron-scale bubble around the particle and maintaining its size over time. The bubbles are shown to remain stable over minutes even after the light source is switched off. The bubbles were shown to swim toward a laser focus for over 400-µm distances across the sample. Optothermal effects, allowing for efficient transport, stable bubble creation, and particle–fluid interaction control, can grant nano-engineered drug delivery capsules with additional functions toward a theragnostic paradigm shift.
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